by Joanna Cummings
Youth and children’s ministries both require early prep for the busy summer months ahead. In children’s ministry this means early recruitment of volunteers to help keep the ministry going during the chaos of summer along with thinking through the many details that are important to summer ministry with kids. Communicating our needs with one another in ministry is always important and doing this intentionally in preparation for the summer can help things run more smoothly and effectively.
One of the greatest ways that youth ministers can help in children’s ministry is by thinking about strong leaders in the youth ministry who might be excited to serve in children’s ministry and helping them get involved. Older youth who have the skills and desire to lead in children’s ministry can be a great example of Christ to young children. These youth often just need the guidance and encouragement to jump in. Some of the ways that youth can lead in children’s ministry include serving as a small group leader at VBS, a station assistant at VBS, assisting and helping to lead Sunday School, and even prep for special events and programs. No matter how your students get involved in children’s ministry, serving in this way is a great opportunity for growth in leadership and serving.
The week in and week out of children’s summer Sunday school and other regular programs require teachers for each age group who are given the resources necessary to lead kids. Choosing and implementing curriculum that can be easily prepared by busy volunteers but still include the spiritual depth our kids need is so important. Preparing for Sunday school during the summer I intentionally evaluate the curriculum to be used. I am also in continual conversation with the congregation about being involved in teaching. In May, we hold a summer Sunday school teachers’ training to prepare the teachers joining in this ministry. Summer in children’s ministry requires flexibility as families travel and teachers have to adapt numbers each week.  Having youth who are willing to assist in this ministry throughout the summer can be a huge help. Youth can provide those extra hands in the classroom that are very much needed and appreciated.
One of the ways youth and children’s ministers can work together in preparation for the weekly summer education moments like Sunday school is to plan recruitment of volunteers together. Perhaps sitting down and creating lists together of who you will call and who in your congregation can serve in either ministry. Making sure to think hard about who to ask to serve in these areas helps us not to overwhelm an individual by asking him to serve in 10 different ways but to ask him to serve in the ministry where we might see his gifts fit best. Brainstorming with another individual often gives you new ideas of folks to plug into a specific ministry. You never know, she might be thrilled to be asked to serve in your ministry!
We all know that Vacation Bible School is a huge summer event in each of our children’s ministries. Our preparation for this outreach to the community and church begins after Christmas and lasts until this event is upon us. One of the ways that youth ministers can team with their children’s ministry and assist with this event is by being involved in being a VBS leader as well as leading and guiding youth to serve at VBS. Youth ministers can help pull a team of youth together to help with set up, moving rooms around, and decorating the church the week before VBS occurs. Youth are also a great asset to cleaning the space up after the children leave the last day. As a youth minister, being a part of your church’s VBS training prior to VBS and learning the program well, you can be a great asset to this ministry. Encouraging your youth who will be leading during VBS to be a part of this training is important too and helps keep everyone informed, confident to serve, and ready for ministry. More than anything, the children look up to the youth so their presence and interaction with kids during the week of VBS is such a valuable ministry to our kids. Youth need to hear this and be encouraged in this by their youth ministers as well as their children’s ministers.
As warm weather approaches us and we all get ready for summer ministry, I hope that we will ask each other: “How might I partner with you in ministry this summer?” Discuss your preparation, your volunteers, and your needs. We can help one another and share our energy in God’s ministry this summer. After all, our goal is the same, seeing young people come to know and experience God in their church and world.
Joanna Cummings is an alumna of the Center for Youth Ministry Training who completed the program in May 2012 earning a Master of Arts in Religion. She serves at Forest Hills United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tenn. as the children’s minister.